Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday described the Uttar Pradesh government’s criticism of party general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s “surprise visit” to Shravasti as a manifestation of the political insecurity of “the leader” [Chief Minister Mayawati].

Briefing journalists here, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said Mr. Gandhi’s visit was part of his mass-contact programme and the Special Protection Group (SPG) had been informed well in advance about it. “He has undertaken such visits several times in the past, has done so now, and will continue to do so repeatedly in future.”

Reacting to Uttar Pradesh Home Secretary’s statement that Mr. Gandhi should have informed the State government about the visit so that prior security arrangements could have been made for him, Ms. Natarajan said: “No political party can possibly be expected to consult, take permission or inform a leader of another political party about their movements. Such a proposition is not feasible and, therefore, cannot be expected.”

About the issue of Mr. Gandhi’s security, Ms. Natarajan reiterated that the SPG was informed after which it is for the State government to fulfil its responsibilities. To persistent questioning about the security-related issues raised by U.P government, she shot back that this was being raised because of the insecurity of “the leader” [Ms. Mayawati] to the response generated by Mr. Gandhi’s mass-contact programme.